By Scott Taylor
Whenever U.S. President Donald Trump hears facts and figures that he does not agree with, he simply dismisses them with his catch-all phrase “fake news.” This of course only serves to delight both the mainstream media and late night talk show hosts who have made a virtual industry out of harpooning Trump for his childlike capacity for self-delusion.
However, as much as we might want The Donald to be wrong about all things all the time, the truth is that Western media does pump out an incredible stream of fake news items in what used to be correctly labelled as propaganda.
In recent years we have seen a ferocious rekindling of the former Cold War, with Western media trying their level best to portray Russian President Vladimir Putin as an evil mastermind bent on nothing less than world domination.
It is for the very purpose of thwarting Russian aggression that we are told it is necessary for Canada to deploy 450 combat soldiers into Latvia.
Similarly, when we now deploy our Royal Canadian Navy frigates on routine missions alongside our NATO allies in the Mediterranean, we are doing so as part of the ongoing Operation Reassurance. In case any of you missed the obvious, that would be as in we are somehow reassuring Western Europe that we are containing Russian aggression.
Western leaders, military tub-thumpers and media cheerleaders have repeated the concept of Russian expansionism so often that it has now simply become an unquestioned fact.
The cornerstone of this argument stems from Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea and their ongoing meddling in what remains essentially a civil war in Ukraine.
So if looked at in strict isolation, power-mad Putin gobbled up a strategic piece of geography on the Black Sea and he is supporting pro-Russian separatists in the breakaway Ukrainian territories along his own border. Sounds pretty evil.
Now, ask yourself what steps the U.S. would take if a similar situation involved them and one of their overseas bases?
The Crimea is the main naval base for Russia’s Black Sea fleet, and since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia had secured long-term leases for this territory from Ukraine.
Following the Western-supported overthrow of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, the Kremlin was taking no chances on a new Kiev regime revoking that lease, so they annexed it. However, they did conduct a referendum first and the latest polls show an 80 per cent approval rating among Crimea residents who still approve of Russia’s annexation.
As for interfering in the Ukraine civil war, if Putin is wrong for supporting the pro-Russian faction — and he is — then we in the West are equally at fault for pouring in military assistance to the current Kiev regime.
For the record, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko’s current approval rating has been compared to milk because it presently sits at just 2 per cent. If the vast majority of Ukrainian citizens do not support Poroshenko’s corrupt cabal of comic-opera oligarchs, then why are Canada and the U.S. rushing to send them military aid?
One of the big announcements over the Christmas holidays was the fact that the U.S. will now start shipping sophisticated anti-tank weapons to prop up Poroshenko’s regime.
This news was of course applauded by the usual chorus of anti-Russian Ukrainian hawks. Their rationale for welcoming these anti-tank missiles was the rather startling claim that Russia currently has more tanks in eastern Ukraine than NATO has in all of Europe. This claim went unchallenged and thus became yet another fact to support Russian expansionism theories.
Unfortunately, as scary as this scenario sounds, it simply is not true. A little fact finding from public sources puts the number of NATO main battle tanks (MTBs) in Europe — not including any U.S. armoured vehicles — at well over 7,000. The highest estimate of tanks within the pro-Russian rebel-held territory in Ukraine is around 680, not all of which are considered serviceable.
So not only is it not true that Russia has more tanks on disputed territory than all of NATO in Europe, that false claim was exaggerated by a full tenfold. To give an even clearer perspective, the Ukraine military loyal to the Kiev regime has apparently 2,700 tanks — or roughly a four-to-one advantage over the pro-Russian rebels.
Trump is not completely wrong. Sometimes news is fake.